Tag Archives: Adventure

Life List: Whale Watching

17 Oct

To celebrate my birthday I wanted to cross something off my Life List. This year: whale watching.

I am experiencing something of a health crisis so I’m short on words but I wanted to share the photos. I’ll write about my trip another time. I promise. Despite my current issues, it was awesome.

A sweet couple celebrating their 40th anniversary brought enough champagne for everyone on the ship.

Dramamine made us sleepy.

Life List: Take Isobel to the Local Water Park

4 Jun

Earlier this week I received a call from my friend Michael. Mike is a colleague of mine with two little kids, a boy and a girl born before and after Isobel. He’s one of the nicest guys on campus and his wife is the uber-talented lady who made this purse for me.

Mike and his wife Liz were arranging a tip to a local park with some other parents and kids we knew. Was I interested? Um. YES. I was so interested, in fact, that taking Isobel to that park to play and enjoy their water park equipment was on my life list. It would be more accurate to say I was ecstatic.

This park is in the older side of town, the side of town Anthony grew up on. Not exactly in the heart of the ghetto, but near it. The park is small and graced with mature shade trees and a reliable assortment of bums and drug activity. It also used to contain a tiny pool that was widely regarded a public bathroom. Eventually the pool was drained and abandoned and the park was left to its own, increasingly shady devices.

Recent years brought change to the park. The City decided to modernize it and bring children back to play beneath its lonesome trees. A play ground area was created and the nasty pool was replaced with a functional water park offering relief from 100+ degree weather to local kids who don’t have an air conditioner let alone a pool.

Now, I’m not usually always proud of our City. It’s done a lot of questionable, wasteful, and frankly, stupid things, but boy they got it right with this water park. Bringing families back has lead in a decrease of criminal activity and transients stay clear of the water and playground areas. You can still find them if you look, but children are safe there with supervision.

When the weather heats up kids flock to this park to play and splash in the water. I knew that one day we’d have a kid and we’d bring her to this park. I just didn’t know that day would come so soon.

Life list item accomplished! And holy cow, it was fun, more fun than should be had on a week day evening. Originally we planned on just Anthony and I suiting up the kid and taking her over there. Instead we went with four other families and an assortment of seven young kids ranging in age from four months to six years. Babies crawled on blankets while older kids splashed around. Parents relaxed and chatted. It was like a play date, barbecue, picnic and water day all rolled into one.

Isobel sat on my lap at first but after about 20 minutes decided, all by herself, to join the watery fun. She toddled near the sprinkler toys and giggled. She squealed. She screamed with happiness.

“Mama!” she said, “Agua!” She grinned in delight. The rest of the afternoon she kept repeating “Mama! Agua!” over and over and she toddled back and forth from the area where we set up our blankets and the water’s edge. She was fearless. She loved it and even though bigger kids splashed her right in the face several times she quickly got over her shock and went back for more.

Overall, this was even more fun than I could have imagined and we decided to make this a regular event among our friends. I can’t believe my luck that we have such a great (free!) water park, that we have such great friends, and that I have such an amazing, wonderful, courageous, and beautiful daughter.

After any adventure I like to come up with a list of things we’ll do differently next time:

  • Isobel has this habit of pulling things out of any bag she sees, including her diaper bag. When we got to the park we realized that she removed her swimming suit bottoms from the diaper bag and left them somewhere in the living room. Oops. She wore her diaper with no liner instead. It worked just fine but the whole suit would have been cuter.
  • Even though she had just eaten before we left all the playing, running, and keeping her body temperature up worked up an appetite fast. She was nearing a meltdown when we finally took her home. I would have felt a lot better if we had brought a pacha and snacks for us.
  • We brought our trusty car blanket out to sit on but a larger blanket would have been more fun.
  • Anthony and I got completely soaked running in to get Isobel when she was splashed. Next time we are wearing water-friendly outfits and towels.
  • Money for the paletas man.
  • Next time we are hella bringing my bestie’s family. Baby K would love this and so would his mom and dad.

Home of the Sea Wolf

26 May

A bunch of us recently took a day trip to Point Lobos for Melynda’s birthday. I am all about day trips and someday I want to spend a summer devoted to them. I’ve decided to sum up this particular trip with bullet-point factoids.

  • After the previous weekend’s disastrous day trip we decided not to bring Isobel with us. Instead she went with Grandma Livia and Papa Doug to the Chocolate Festival where it was at least 85 degrees. We coated her in a protective swath of sunscreen first.
  • Before we left we took two portraits of everybody on the stairwell. Everyone’s in the portrait except Justy and me. (Oh and Scott met us at the Point so he’s not in it, either.) I got a shot of Justy later on to compensate.
  • This is the first trip we’ve taken to Monterey in recent years wherein Anthony and I did not get lost. This might have something to do with the fact that this was our view the whole way there:

stef’s car’s butt
  • For those of you with romantic notions about California, the photo below is what much of my area looks like. Try not to be too jealous!

  • Driving to Monterey still took almost four hours because we stopped at Casa de Fruta, a large touristy area with a large candy store and other roadside attractions for the weary traveller. I bought a bag of caramel corn and regretted it an hour or so later after I finished the whole thing in one sitting. Bleh.

Casa de Lollipop

Casa de Couple

Casa de Husbands
  • We met my dear friend Zack’s significant other Heidi for the first time. She is awesome. I felt like I already knew her since we hang out  on the internets. It was wonderful to meet her and person and even better to see Zack so happy.

  • Having fun with Dave and Stef was bittersweet as they are packing up their cats and books and moving to Reno in a few weeks. Something about Stef finishing school to get her doctorate or some such nonsense. I’m so proud of her. This has been in the works for years but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that it’s actually happening. It makes me a little teary. I’m so happy she’s on Twitter now.

  • Point Lobos has that rugged coastal California beauty that’s a combination of windswept piney forest and clear glistening tide pool, moody clouded skies and fresh saline breezes. Which is to say I loved it. California is so beautiful my love only grows stronger over time.

  • The word “lobos” is Spanish for “wolf,” but the wolves in question at Point Lobos are actually sea lions. Or sea wolves. Whichever you prefer. They hang out in droves all along the point. I love them and don’t mind their barking noise.

  • We meandered from tide pool to tide pool and took a quick hike through the trees. I took lots of breaks throughout the day and lagged far behind everyone else. I had doubled up on my Crohn’s meds in preparation but I still had to take it easy.

  • Justin Brown spent a lot of time climbing to inconvenient places recording ocean noises to sample in his music. At the lagoon he crawled into a cave which apparently had great acoustics. It also was an ideal spot for the tide to come in! More than a few of us got wet feet from a surprise wave or two but Anthony was the only person who thought to bring extra shoes and socks.

  • We found a totally secret lagoon that humans have never visited before ever. Just us! The only ones! Ever! We wandered around there for about a half an hour skipping rocks and recording sounds and exploring before some lady’s head popped out of nowhere and started asking us about directions. So much for our secluded, pristine lagoon. That lady scared the crap outta me.

  • Anthony really loves climbing on dangerous, slippery rocks. And giving me heart attacks.

  • While we ate our picnic lunch we watched two seagulls courting. One caught a fish and gave it to the other one. I have never seen seagulls behave that way and around here they are sometimes referred to as ‘greedy bastards.’ As in, ‘that greedy bastard is stealing your lunch!’ It was quite a surprise to catch a seagull in an altruistic act. We were pretty sure it was horny. The subject of Isabella Rosselini came up.

  • We stayed late at the beach because the overcast day meant the light hardly changed at all and we lost track of time. Or at least I did. I don’t know if that’s everyone’s excuse but I didn’t notice the hours going by till it was almost eight. Ravenous and cold, we called around to find a restaurant that would accommodate eleven hungry beach goers. Melynda arranged reservations at a nice restaurant on the wharf. We were lucky to get a table since there were so many of us, it was a Saturday night in a touristy city, and to top it all off, it was Prom season. Our table was excellent, right on the water and far enough away from formal-clad adolescents.
  • I had been fighting a migraine all day. Instead of taking my prescription meds for it I tried to amble along on Excedrin. Imitrex can make me very sleepy and I didn’t want to miss a minute of the fun so I suffered through on Excedrin. Stupid choice, me! By dinner I could barely move and had to bust out the big guns. I was better by the time my food arrived but it was a really crappy way to end a lovely day. Speaking of food, I ordered scallop risotto. Heaven.
  • I was feeling so ill at dinner I only got one photo. Enjoy my ridiculous husband posing with bottled water.

Big Pimpin'

Day Trip Fail

2 May

Yesterday our little family took a little day trip to the Bay Area for a conference for Anthony’s work, a mistake we are not going to make again. We knew traveling with a toddler was going to have its rough moments, but we didn’t suspect that the majority of the trip was going to be one constant aggravation after another.

Anthony and I did invent a great new game to play on road trips. It’s called ‘Gang Initiation.’ Basically one person thinks of a task that the other person must do to be in their gang.  The point is not to do the suggested action, of course, because there is no actual gang. The point is to out-ridiculous the other person. It goes something like this:

Me: “For your Gang Initiation you have to… spray paint over the Keyes freeway sign and change the name to ‘Butt Town.'”

Anthony’s initiations were always way harder:

Anthony: “For your Gang Initiation you need to… come up with a lasting solution to peace in the Middle East.”

It’s hours of fun, even with a baby fussing in the background.

There were a few bright spots in the day, such as when we found a little patio to wander around on, but most of our time was spent not learning from the conference but basically preventing Isobel from getting into something or doing something dangerous.

We thought it over and we really couldn’t have done anything differently. We handled the situation as best as we could and we prepared for it as much as possible. It just wasn’t a toddler-friendly environment. Had she been younger and not mobile, she would have been content. Had she been older and able to play independently with the many other children there, she would have had a ball. As it was she is too young to play on her own and too old to be interested in sitting and playing with toys.

Pretty much all the activities she was interested in around her were dangerous. Anthony and I often talk about how suicide-prone babies are and how supervising her pretty much involves us trying to prevent her from killing herself. Angela said that being a parent was like playing and endless game of lemmings, which sums it up perfectly.

We left early, got ice cream, and went home. When we got home we unplugged with a couple hours of Heroes and afterward we were recovered enough to go out and see our friends play a show at Borders. Stefalynda played one of its last shows ever because soon Stefanie is moving to Reno to get her doctorate. I took some photos of Isobel ‘playing’ piano with Stefanie.

She loved it so much that when we were done she spent the remaining time at Borders tugging on Stef’s pants and saying ‘up.’ It’s hard not to indulge her.

My friends and I have a running joke that some jazz music sounds like they just gave a bunch of instruments to babies and let them have at it, so I guess this was not too far off.